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While You Were Barking

Dear Cricket,

This is an accounting of all of the things I have missed while you were barking.

You bark whenever someone opens a door: to the building, the basement, their apartment, a passing car, or a building across the street. Often this happens while I am watching TV. Inevitably the characters will be in the middle of revealing the heinous secret at the center of the plot when you start to bark. Thank God for the pause button. There never used to be a pause button on my TV remote. Clearly someone else has a dog like you.

Butterfly to Cricket - "Shh, I'm watching TV."

“Shh, I’m watching TV.”

You especially like to bark when I am on the telephone. I know that you do not like the idea that I could choose to pay attention to anything but you and that this is, in fact, truly painful.

"I am Cricket, hear me bark!"

“I am Cricket, hear me bark!”

I have noticed that recently you have been teaching your sister how to bark with you. Together you are a formidable Greek chorus, lamenting murder and mayhem, warning of death and destruction. Every once in a while, I wish you would sing a few sweet lullabies, but I don’t expect this to take place.

Butterfly - "I think I can bark, I think I can bark..."

“I think I can bark, I think I can bark…”

You bark over conversations your humans are trying to have, and successfully end them with your demands for attention. We do try to wait until you are resting quietly on the floor before having any kind of in depth conversation, but not all conversations are in depth, or planned. Sometimes I just think of something I want to say while I’m at the computer, or eating dinner, and you inevitably have something louder to say at exactly the same time.

You have been very successful at using your bark as a device to train your people. Just like we might use a pull on your collar, or a clicker, you use a bark. These are the lessons you have taught me:

“Mommy, you can’t eat all of that dinner yourself.”

“You must check the window to see if someone is racing towards us with an ax.”

“You can’t clean the poop off my butt!”

“You will not make friends with that neighbor, or walk towards that corner of the lawn to meet that dog.”

“You cannot put your feet on the floor without my permission. How dare you!”

Cricket, you rule with an iron fist. You are not a person whisperer. You are a person barker.

There are so many places that say, of course your dog can come in, if she is well behaved, which counts us out.

You make it very difficult to have conversations with our new neighbors, because as soon as they walk up the path, you see them, and start to bark and lunge and I have to pull you away and focus your attention elsewhere. I try to make sure I smile at the human to let them know that I am not rejecting them or agreeing with your assessment of them, but I’m not sure how much of that comes across.

You need to be watched around children who don’t understand that you have boundaries. There are certain dogs (Golden and Labs come to mind) who can tolerate being poked and teased, but you cannot, and I understand this. I try to teach children how to be polite with you and recognize when you are warning them away, but they, inevitably, ignore everything I say. I’m sure you can relate to that. This is why I have to intervene and pick you up when things get knotty. This is not an invitation for you to bite me.

(No comment)

(No comment)

You are fully present in every moment, hyper-aware, and hyper vigilant, which makes you very entertaining, but it also means that you can get over stimulated. I am not suggesting that you become someone else, or that you stop expressing yourself. I just wish that, sometimes, you could hold back on the barking, and communicate your feelings in a less car-alarm, the-world-is-about-to-end, sort of way.



About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

60 responses »

  1. ‘There are so many places that say, of course your dog can come in, if she is well behaved, which counts us out’ Rachel, I feel your pain. I want a dog that will slumber beneath the table sweetly. I have the hyperactive relatives of Cerberus. Let’s have a cafe for badly behaved canines.

  2. Oh Rachel, you had me laughing out loud this entire post. I can completely relate! My Bailey sounds just as expressive as your Cricket! 🙂

  3. Oh Cricket!! I must count my stars that my dogs do not bark excessively, they do however, earn the title of demolition dogs…nothing is safe, not even the bible! Rachel, this post is such a delight!

    • Thank you! I’m trying to decide if I’d prefer destruction of personal property to the constant threat of high octane barking. This is tough. When she was a puppy, Cricket did her best to be a demolition dog, but only a pumpkin and a wicker garbage can really felt the pain. Though my previous dog did actually destroy a whole couch. Still better than the barking.

  4. People say that dogs can’t talk – but we know that’s rubbish, it’s just that most folk don’t understand their language.

  5. Loved this post. Read it out loud to my 7 year old daughter, who found it very funny. There is a great word to describe Cricket’s over-response…catastrophising. I do it way too often myself.Best wishes,
    Rowena and Amelia

  6. H-Y-S-T-E-R-I-C-A-L!! Keep up the good work, Cricket!! You do us all proud! Paw Snaps and Twirls, The Red Man

  7. It sounds like Cricket is a soul sister to my youngest dog, Patience. She is convinced that the neighbors are evil demons coming to steal our souls and barks when they even think about moving in their houses!

    • And her name is Patience? Hmm. I think, instead of sending Cricket to training classes with all of those well behaved dogs who sit when they are told, I should find her a group of like minded dogs, so they can wear each other out. Just one small room with rubber walls and floors, and ten barking dogs.

      • Patience’s name was given to her when she was a tiny feral puppy. It was chosen because whoever adopted her was going to need patience, but it’s become really hilariously incongruous!

  8. I especially love the list of lessons that Cricket has taught you. Lol. 🙂

  9. I’m a dog and I’m in charge of justice in my domain. Certain offenses are “barking offenses” such as that truck that steals our stuff that They put out of the curb twice a week. Also just being the lady who comes and puts bills and junk mail in our mailbox every afternoon is a barking offense. Trying to stop me from meting out punishment is a barking offense for obstruction of justice.

  10. Cricket is lucky to have such a sweet and understanding Mommy. My Fae is quite the barker, too. It really can be trying.

  11. Oh, Cricket rules with an iron paw! (woof chuckle)! Love, Maggie

  12. Maybe you’re a candidate for one of those reality dog trainer shows. I thought about signing up myself, but couldn’t handle the humiliation when even the trainer wasn’t successful here.

  13. Love this funny letter! Cricket is 100% cute 😉

  14. Have you thought of a career as a dog Psychologist?

  15. My two bark when people come to the house but it’s more of a “excuse me, why are you not here saying Hello to us?” and as soon as they do and deliver a pat and a scratch, peace is restored – except for the dog on the other side of the fence that they have never seen but don’t like and bark at constantly. (even when it’s not there!!)

    • We used to pass a barking fence on our walks. Every once in a while you could see a patch of white or black hair through the slats, but I still don’t know how many little dogs lived there, or if sometimes it wasn’t the dogs, but the parrots on the porch, barking.

  16. Cricket is a very lucky dog 🙂

  17. Oh yes, I could have written this about Ginger. The other day I missed the dialogue during the climax scene of a program I was watching! She also has decided to bark at me whenever I try to eat. “You can’t clean the poop off my butt!” So glad to see that I am not the only person with this problem. Too funny; I laughed out loud.

    • Next time Cricket barks through a scene, I think I should make her, and Butterfly, act out that scene for me. She would love to be a pretend doctor, if I gave her scalpels to play with, but her ideal role would be a lawyer. She makes some very convincing arguments, out of no facts at all.

  18. I got so tired of the 6 wieners running out to the fence to bark at…take your pick, trucks, cars, people,cats, dogs, raccoons, ghosts….that I finally to to running out towards them with a really big and scary stick a few times. It’s amazing how they detected the purpose of the stick 50 yards away…and shut up. Now all I have to do is wait a few seconds for the barking to release a little dog energy, then I holler “Dogs! come!” and they stop barking and run to me. They don’t want to see that stick again, even if I never did touch them with it. Works on kids, too. Joking!

  19. ah Rachel – excuse my language but you are bloody hilarious! And it is all so true…….

  20. paigeandspaniels

    My Apollo is so well behaved… And then there is Artemis. Once I was looking at treats and she belly crawled under a display counter. I couldn’t figure out why people were staring till I saw Apolli sitting quietly and Missy’s leash going under a counter -.-

    She barks purely because she can. No rhyme or reason to it except for one instance: if she wants a toy Apollo has she will run to our backdoor barking and when Apollo runs to the backdoor she trots over and takes the toy.

  21. Oh, this is so so funny. I just read it aloud to my whole family, and my six-year-old son peed his pants (don’t tell). It’s because we can relate! My N.A.S.H.A. does her best work in the early morning hours. She perches on the couch near the front window and explosively barks at every neighbor, cyclist, and dog walker (the worst) in the neighborhood before we’ve had a chance to brew coffee. Then she loops around the house to the other front window, doing her terrier bark the whole way. We don’t need coffee…we get morning heart attacks.

    Thanks for the laugh…I needed it.

  22. Dogs talk to us all the time. We just need to listen. Farley, my wheaten, barks at dolphins so I never miss when one is swimming by. He also barks a manatees. He barks when I cast a lure. Wait. I think his theme is sea creatures.

  23. I am only posting this Link to make sure you have seen the cute dog photo of ‘sing songs of my people!’ Have you thought in the doggy world you could have a Opera singing super star?

    • I have met dogs who can not only sing, they can emote with great melodrama. They’d just have to rewrite the music in the correct vocal range for these super dogs.

      • Basenjis also known as ‘The bark-less dog’ can do a surprisingly loud howling/yodel, specially if they are being fostered by a volunteer in an apartment who has to call me at 2am requesting me to please come pick up the dog She did get adopted. But if you need a strong background singer that is a good breed for a TRIO!

      • I think Cricket would love to learn about harmony, we’ll have to look into that.

  24. I enjoyed your blog posting……sounds very familiar 🙂

  25. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what can I
    say… I put things off a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  26. I can definitely relate. Tessie is the same way. I know she’s protecting me and maybe trying to tell me something, but I’m not always listening. Instead, I’m usually trying to shush her.


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